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Becoming a Blessed Church: Forming a Church of Spiritual Purpose, Presence, and Power Paperback

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (December 10, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1566993121
  • ISBN-13: 978-1566993128
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #583,379 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Graham Standish invites us to create a culture of discernment in the context of our own communities." -- Kent Ira Groff

"Standish shows us how a church can become spiritually deep and healthy on every level...." -- Walt Kallestad

"[Standish] presents a vision that is accessible to and legitimate for churches across the spectrum...." -- Brian McLaren

About the Author

The Rev. N. Graham Standish is pastor of Calvin Presbyterian Church in Zelienople, Pennsylvania. He is the author of three previous books on spirituality and is a therapist, retreat leader, teacher, and an adult adjunct faculty member at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. He holds a Ph.D. in spiritual formation.

More About the Author

Most of my life has been devoted to helping people become healthier in mind, body, and spirit. As a result, I have been a teacher, retreat leader, spiritual director, as well as an individual, marital, and family therapist. My Ph.D. is in spiritual formation from Duquesne University, a degree that balances theory and praxis to help people grow not only spiritually, but in life. My Master of Social Work is from the University of Pittsburgh, and my Master of Divinity is from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.

I have been pastor of Calvin Presbyterian Church in Zelienople, Pennsylvania since January of 1996, and a pastor since 1988. Calvin Church is living out a vision to be a church rooted in prayer and a passionate desire to seek and do God's will in everything. Over the past 14 years, Calvin Church has more than doubled in size, and has garnered national attention in several studies, including one by Diana Butler-Bass, who included Calvin Church in her groundbreaking book, Christianity for the Rest of Us, which researched churches across the country that are leading Christians to renewal through an emphasis on spirituality and spiritual practices ( Our approach to church is an alternative to the traditional or evangelical approaches dominating the Christian church realm.

I am the author of six books: In God's Presence: Encountering, Experiencing, and Embracing the Holy in Worship (2010), Humble Leadership (2007), Becoming the Blessed Church (2005), Discovering the Narrow Path (2002), Paradoxes for Living (2001), and Forming Faith in a Hurricane (1998). I have contributed to five others: Living Our Story: Narrative Leadership and Congregational Culture (2010), From Nomads to Pilgrims (2006), Let Us Pray: Reformed Prayers for Christian Worship (2003) and The Dictionary of Christian Spiritual Formation (2003). I have also written numerous articles in spirituality, spiritual direction, and spirituality in congregations.

I am an adjunct professor at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary Doctor of Ministry program and Certificate in Spiritual Formation Program, focusing in the areas of spirituality and congregational leadership. I have served on the boards of the Samaritan Counseling Center and editorial board of Presence, the journal of Spiritual Directors International.

Customer Reviews

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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Gary J. Benevides on October 4, 2005
Format: Paperback
Pastor Standish shares an approach to building up a church, no matter how long it has been in existence and no matter what size it is, into a vibrant, blessed body of Christ. One of the criteria our church used for evaluating the myriad of books and recommended approaches available for study was - how is it working for the author? Well, Pastor Standish's denominational suburban church continues to grow and to thrive.

The approach is pretty simple. Invite God to all of your church meetings, not just your worship services. Start your business meetings with devotions, and dedicate significant time and energy to the Lord. Pray fervently about your church's decisions and needs, and trust that God answers prayers. Let this approach become the way things are always done at every gathering no matter how large or small. Call on the Holy Spirit to take part in the decision-making process.

Being an accountant, I can reconcile accounts and plan budgets with the best of them. However, after reading this book, I now realize that it's okay if my church's forecasted giving doesn't quite measure up to the planned expenses. It's okay if those expenses are a result of what the Spirit is calling our church to do. Pastor Standish includes many accounts, personal and anecdotal, of funding arriving on time from unplanned sources to allow a church organization to fulfill its mission.

The book is filled with so much more.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By K. Smith on July 17, 2006
Format: Paperback
Drawing on his experience as a pastor and counselor, Standish describes a blessed church as one that is "alive because God is alive." As the pastor of Calvin Presbyterian Church in Zelienople, Pennsylvania he has encouraged an experience with God rather than activity-based church experiences about God. Beginning with prayer to discern God's purpose and vision for the church, the author provides an appendix filled with suggested processes for becoming a blessed church. This refreshing book is not about church membership growth. Rather, it leads the church to become a deeper, broader, spirit-filled community of Christ. The thoughtful reflection questions at the end of each chapter make this an excellent book for study groups and church leaders who are seeking God's transformation in their own lives and the life of the church.
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By Bonnie Kautz on February 15, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It was interesting and very easy to read, written in every day language. Examples emphasized points to be stressed. Not to large to feel defeated before one got started.
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Format: Paperback
According to the author, "becoming a blessed church means overcoming rational functionalism," which he sees as "rooted in the idea that we can uncover the mysteries of life and the universe mainly through rational thought and disciplined investigation." The author sees two adverse consequences to this functionalism in church life: the church loses the sense that God is in its midst, and its processes become paramount. To overcome this situation, the author recommends that the church prayerfully discern God's purpose for them in all circumstances, allow God - especially Christ - to become present in their worship and lives, and become open to God as power through the actions of the Holy Spirit. This process requires leadership, specifically faith filled, hopeful, loving, humble, prayerful leaders who are deeply rooted in God. The author posits that such leaders will have certain necessary dispositions for a blessed church, e.g., "trusting, encouraging, compassionate, visionary, able to articulate that vision, sacrificially selfless, and committed to outreach." The book concludes with 14 appendices dealing with subjects as diverse as "Discerning God's Purpose for the Church" to the "All-Committee Budgeting Process."

The key strengths in this book include its emphasis on prayer in the leadership of the church and the book's invaluable appendices. The author's approach to church leadership could be said to be saturated in prayer. This saturation is particularly evident in the author's discussion of "Prayerful Discernment of our Purpose." I thought I had been prayerfully discerning God's purposes pretty well until I read this section of the book.
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